What Aspiring Startups And Music Artists Share In Common

It continues to amaze me that most people feel comfortable in moving in the same current as others. There seems to be a relief in knowing that others are doing the same things. Maybe it’s a mentality of ‘we will all fail or succeed together’ that makes us think in that way.

In business that way of thinking can get you killed – if you are an entrepreneur.

I like to compare the similarities of contrasting business segments. Usually I do so in hopes of finding a similar thread of consistency that propels both segments into success.

Recently, I was thinking how much of a journey to success is similar between aspiring startups and music artists. Both industries seem to operate in a parallel universe where the people with the money are all challenged with investing, or may be even gambling today for a significant return in the future.

Investor vs. Record Label

In most industries there is a person or company that funds the ideas. Record labels fund artists and venture capitalists and investors fund entrepreneurs. Both have limited resources on what they can invest their money in –  which puts extreme pressure on entrepreneurs to develop cool, innovative and useful products and services that deliver significant value to a market segment.

Ideas are cheap, but having a plan, vision and a purpose become prerequisites of those that get funded vs. those who do not. The music artist and the startup have a common responsibility and reality – complete and full differentiation among its competitors. The ‘reality’ part of the equation seems to often elude both, whether it be the music artist or entrepreneur. Many aspiring music artists look in the mirror & tend to give themselves more credit than they deserve, and entrepreneurs fall in that same trap. The judge and jury is the customer and their voice can be heard loud and clear – they either support you with a purchase or they don’t. That’s ultimate metric!

{MJ wrote an article about this here}

To a certain degree, entrepreneurs have a double-sided sword they have to walk; an idea that’s far reaching and maybe too risky versus an idea that’s not innovative enough that gets lost, never to be seen. The closer the entrepreneur and investor are in understanding the realities – the better fit and probably the better outcome will be realized.

 Startups and Music Artists

Initially, the most important thing to know is the approach you will have entering a marketplace and what you want your audience to take away from you.  Kanye West positioned himself as a talented renegade type of artist while Taylor Swift has positioned her self as ‘wholesome’ and ‘Americana.’ Think of it as understanding your brand purpose and building a personality around it. Aspiring startups have the same challenge as music artists – building authenticity and value while increasing their ability to engage with their audience in a unique way.

Though it may be a lot to think about, it’s easier to get that sorted early in your brand development process than to have your target market ‘guessing’ who you are and what you have to offer.

As a music artist has to continually refine their lyrics and several other aspects to their end product, startups are no different. Peter Thiel (PayPal Founder) once said in a video, “ Starting a business is about iteration not laborious research” … he later said, “The latter is cocky and inflexible.”

Translation? Build something, put it out there, and tweak it and repeat until you have a product that is relevant and considerably differentiated from its competitors.

 The Few That Fall Between The Cracks

The very reason you love a particular music artist is the same for brands you love. Great brands don’t always have the coolest products, just like your favorite singer may not have the best voice from a technical standpoint. No matter the physical assets, the brand must communicate certain qualities that embrace the values of their marketplace. It is all about learning how to create a brand personality.

The best explanation of how to create a brand personality is from a video I watched a few years back;

 “ Build up a picture of the kind of brand you think you are. As the brand is learning what it is, It’s also learning what it is not.”

With many startups and music artists, creating a brand personality is often overlooked and usually ignored all together. As  products becoming more blurred, with regard to differentiation, there has to be value established outside of the product or service.

To learn more about this, I suggest watching a short video module I created entitled, 3 Components To designing A Brand Identity.

 The Take-Away

As we can see, startups and music artists have very similar challenges in breaking through and becoming successful. Though a valuable and innovative product or service is the price of entry in building a successful startup, I encourage you to build a soul at the core of your business that reflects the ideals and aspirations of your audience.

Stay Hungry & Hustle Hard!

Gary

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